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National Beer Day

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By Dan Clarke

Today, April 7th , is National Beer Day.

You didn’t already know that? Neither did I until I saw Andy Sparhawk’s article in Craft Beer this morning. Apparently, #NationalBeerDay has been recognized as a “Social Media Holiday” since this date in 2009.

FDR Picmonkey"I think this would be a good time for a beer." --FDR

You see, April 7, 1933 was the date the Cullen-Harrison Act went into effect. It was a sort-of preface to the full repeal of Prohibition on December 5th of that year (for the edification of our younger readers, Prohibition refers to the dark years of 1919 to 1933 when production, possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages was actually outlawed in this country due to the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, better known as the Volstead Act).

The Cullen-Harrison Act allowed for brewing and sale of beer no more than 4.05% alcohol by volume (ABV) or 3.2% alcohol by weight. Ah, the infamous “Three-Two” beer. Though it certainly was a step in the right direction, it was still an unfortunate restriction on what should have been American freedom. Many years after Repeal even the women in my family spoke derisively of this three-two product, also referring to it as Near Beer.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President of the U.S. at the time of the Cullen-Harrison Act, is reputed to have said, “I think this would be a good time to have a beer.”

When full Repeal went into effect, another politician celebrated with a beer. On December 5th of ’33, my Dad’s godfather, James Rolph Jr. had a beer in a joint on Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento. “Sunny Jim” Rolph’s office was in the State Capitol just a few miles away, he being California’s Governor at the time. it is inconceivable that “Sunny Jim” had been an abstainer during Prohibition, but having that ceremonial first legal beer probably didn't his popularity.

Happily, Doc’s Place, the location of Rolph’s first legal drink in 14 years, lives on. It’s now The Shack, where Gary Sleppy and his crew serve a great array of craft beers.

I’m not in California today, but I think I’ll have a beer—maybe two beers—at Brews Taphouse in Pasco, Washington. It, too, has a great selection.

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